Longleat Safari Park
The Estate Office
Longleat, Warminster, Wiltshire
Tel: 01985 844400
About Longleat Safari Park
Longleat Safari Park is off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury, Wiltshire, and is a family attraction with a host of entertainments that add up to a special family day out.
Longleat Safari Park opened in the grounds of Longleat House in 1966 and was the first drive-through safari park outside Africa. A ticket to Longleat Safari Park grants the visitor access to the magnificent House, home to the 7th Marquess of Bath, and a family attraction in its own right.
Longleat House is set in 900 acres of ‘Capability’ Brown landscaped grounds, mainly completed by 1580. The family attraction is one of the best examples of Elizabethan architecture in the country and is a palatial stately home with grand interiors. It sits by a lake within 8000 acres of glorious parkland, its highlights including the Half Mile Pond reshaped by Humphrey Repton, home to Longleat Safari Park’s resident lowland gorilla, Nico. He enjoys creature comforts such as a centrally-heated miniature stately home, satellite TV and computer games! Also resident at Half Mile Lake are awesome Common Hippopotamus, which can be viewed from two £250,000 boats launched in 2007.
Russell Page rearranged the gardens in the 1960s and created the floral splendour of Longcombe Drive’s azaleas and rhododendrons. The 7th Marquess then laid the Yin-Yang garden in 1964, and mazes including the Love Labyrinth, Sun Maze and Lunar Labyrinth, completing them in 1996.
Longleat Safari Park has over 500 animals maintained in numerous Safari Park Reserves. The family attraction’s 60-acre East African Game Reserve features slender giraffes (reaching a height of 5.5 metres) and graceful zebras, Llamas, and Camels, on a 25-hectare reserve viewed from the Observation Platform at the Trading Post Picnic Area. Also on show are Tapir, Ostriches and Pygmy Goats, while other highlights are rare white rhino, Ankole Cattle, with two-metre horns, Père David’s Deer, Oryx, Eland, bongos, Warthogs and Guineafowl. Nearby, Wallaby Wood has resident red-necked wallabies, along with Pygmy Goats.
Longleat Safari Park’s Flamingo Valley is a sanctuary not only for the pink Chilean birds, but also Spoonbills and Sacred Ibis, plus many types of duck – worth the ticket alone for twitchers! The same goes for the Vulture Venue aviary and its five pairs of African vultures.
The family attraction’s Monkey Jungle houses the natural performers that are the monkeys, who share their domain with powerful Indian Water Buffalo and Black Buck. The Rhesus Macaques feed on the apples, oranges, dog biscuits and maize scattered around their enclosure to encourage foraging – when they’re not engaged in their other past-time of car aerial-bending!
Longleat Safari Park’s dedicated Deer Park has contained Deer since fencing was erected by Sir John Thynne in 1540. Ticket holders can buy food to feed them.
The Pelican Pond boasts the first breeding group of Pink-Backed Pelicans in the British Isles, while the Wolf Wood has a pack of once-native wolves.
Longleat Safari Park’s Tiger Territory is a must-see at the family attraction, housing the world’s biggest big cats in the shape of three (Siberian) Amur Tigers and one Bengal Tiger. Vying for the big cat crown, Lion Country has enclosures for two prides of the naturally territorial African and Barbary lions, which have been at Longleat Safari Park since day one. They’re fed raw meat and their keepers ensure that the lions ‘work’ for it by hiding meat around their enclosures and using a meat wagon that the lions have to chase. The trees in the enclosures are protected from them as they use them as scratch posts and for territorial marking. A 12-foot scratch post has tempted them away from the family attraction’s 300-year old oaks!
Another popular draw at Longleat Safari Park are the sealions that were first introduced to Half Mile Lake in the 1960s. They live in fresh water and their diet – three-and-a-half kilos of mackerel a day, each – is supplemented by salt to re-create their marine habitat.
As well as exotic species, native ones are represented in Pets Corner by rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets, along with more unusual examples such as chinchillas, Marmosets, Macaws, the ever-playful otters, a variety of slithering snakes, lizards and venerable tortoises. A Safari Bus Service is available from Pet’s Corner to various parts of Longleat Safari Park.
Additionally, Longleat Safari Park has another crowd-pleaser in Meerkats, who have their own enclosure next to the waiting area for the Safari Boats. The quirky creatures entertain with mesmerising movements, along with mongoose.
Longleat Safari Park has been the subject of BBC TV’s Animal Park, hosted by Kate Humble and Ben Fogle, for a number of years, and the stars of the show – the animals, that is – can be seen off set by ticket holders on a family day out.
Furthermore, the family attraction has woodlands containing 16,000 English Yews and the piece de resistance of Longleat Safari Park’s mazes, Greg Bright’s Hedge Maze. It covers 1.5 acres (0.6 hectares) and its paths extend 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometres). Unusually, it’s three-dimensional, with six wooden bridges providing glimpses of the centre observation tower. Additionally, nine sculpted granite standing stones over five metres tall flank Heaven’s Gate.
Elsewhere, the family attraction has a narrow gauge steam railway with a 1950’s-style platform, period adverts and other props. Inside Longleat House, another big draw are Lord Bath’s Murals, which can be viewed by ticket holders, as can the Life And Times of Henry Lord Bath Exhibition, the Family Bygones Exhibition, the Scale Model of Longleat, its Mystical Garden, and King Arthur’s Mirror Maze.
Enhancing the fun factor at the family day out are a raft of rides, including Motion Simulators, The Tea Cup Ride, and Adventure Castle, besides the tropical Butterfly Garden, which harbours hundreds of exotic species – many as big as a hand. Special feeding stations can be used to feed them with rotting fruit and sugar water.
As for refreshments on a family day out to Longleat Safari Park, ticket holders can use the Wessex Pavilion and The Cellars Restaurant in the vaults of Longleat House, as well as Picnic Areas on the grass by the Pavilion and the ‘Animal Park’ Exhibition off Main Square.
For ticket holders looking for a memento of their family day out, Lady Bath’s Shop, the Victorian Kitchen Shop, Trading Post, Noah’s Ark Gift Shop and Longleat Railway Shop cover all bases. For those wishing to take things a step further, a VIP Day is just the ticket, with a guided tour of Longleat Safari Park by one of the wardens in a striped 4×4 Land Rover. Also included on this special family day out are Fast Track entry, a Tour of the Monkey Jungle in a Park vehicle (saving your aerial and windscreen wipers!), a Guide Book and Passport Ticket entry to all Longleat’s family attractions.
The Longleat Estate provides some of the best quality coarse fishing in Britain on its five lakes, managed since 1989. Besides that angle, many others are covered by Longleat Safari Park’s special arrangements for corporate events and Conferences, weddings, dinners, and themed fun days (see the website for details). With extensive disabled access and facilities, Longleat Safari Park really is a great family day out that everyone can enjoy.